Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
Except for today. Today sucks! Okay? Why do I say it sucks? Because my body is changing! Man, I don’t know what happened. I woke up one day, and the makeup on my face was clumping! I have olive-colored skin, okay? Which means it’s oilier than most people’s, and the advantage is I look younger longer. Yey! Something finally worked to my advantage because this skin, when I was young, had cystic acne. So for the longest time, I could just put on makeup, and I went through my wash routine all of those things. But I would just put on makeup, and it would look beautiful! And then it stopped. And I was shocked! It’s like, “What is going on? What the hell happened?
I couldn’t quite figure it out, and I found myself Googling, “how to put on makeup on mature skin.” And the first thing that it said was, “You need to moisturize.” Moisturize before you put on the makeup. Moisturize after you wash the makeup off. Moisturize when you go to bed. Moisturize when you get out of bed. I was like, “What the hell?” Isn’t it that bad enough that I had to learn vaginal atrophy this year? And now my skin is in on this game too? Now I have to deal with dry skin?
And then to top everything out, the indecency of indecencies, I started to notice that if I didn’t moisturize well enough, I had crevices. Crevices where the makeup got stuck. So, my face was beginning to look like one of those paintings where the makeup runs down. What the hell is that all about? What did I ever do to deserve this?
I got older; that’s what I did to deserve it. And it’s a good thing when I think about it, you know, given the fact that for the last (my goodness) seven years, I’ve been in and out of the hospital, I have had several interesting experiences (most of them), not good ones in the hospital. I mean, the hospital staff was great, my body was not so great.
So, I’ve made it another year, and this year. My compensation, my big birthday gift, has been the fact that my skin is changing. And it’s not just the skin on my face. It’s the skin on my fingers too. I don’t know if any of you notice this. But all of a sudden, the skin around my nails is dry all of the time! Okay, I could blame it on the pandemic cause I’m always washing my hands, and to top things up, I know way too much about germs because of my Ph.D. being in the public health arena. And I’m a major germaphobe. So, even before this started, I washed my hands when I didn’t need to wash my hands.
Except for the fact that the dry skin around my fingernails didn’t use to happen before. It just started happening this year! And it’s hard. And when I was looking at it, you know when I was doing this thing, and picking at it. I was like, “Oh, shit! I remember where I’ve seen this before. My grandmother’s hands!” I’m not a grandmother! I’m not ready to be a grandmother! Except yes, I’m a grandmother, and I could technically be a great grandmother. But that’s another story altogether, right? I’m not just ready for it. But there it is.
Now, adding insult to injury. I need to nap every day. What happened? You know, my friends used to joke that I was an Energizer bunny. Do you remember that commercial? It keeps going and going and going and going. Now my battery goes something like this it’s going, and going, and going dead! Dead in the middle of the day, people! What is up with that?! And here’s the problem, my kids’ batteries are going, and going, and going, and my little Bugaboo, my five-year-old son, boy, let me tell you, if I turn around, I’m going to be going to the emergency room!
So, what do I do? I have to take a nap in the middle of the day to keep up with my kids. And my life. And my blogs, and my podcasts, and everything else that I do. I have to. Otherwise, I would never make it through the day. I just couldn’t do it, and that really sucks! It really sucks because I’m not used to this.
I am not used to needing this level of rest. Now here’s the really, truly scary part. I used to go, kiss my kids’ goodnight. And I could still get away with doing that with my little Bugaboo. I can kiss him goodnight, get him to be, and he’s done. That’s one nice thing about my little Bugaboo, cause once he’s in bed, he’s down. The older girls. My three thirteen-year-olds. They come to kiss me goodnight and put me to bed. And that is so sad! Because I used to really love going to their bedrooms, kissing them goodnight, hugging them. But no! That’s not going to happen cause I’m going to bed around nine or ten, and they’re still going. Because they do take up their mother when their mother was young.
Now here’s the new challenge: about eighteen months ago, in our house in the Caribbean, we had a cleaning lady who came in for one day, and she swamped the floors. Now the nicer homes in the Caribbean have marble floors. Now, in theory, they look gorgeous. In practice, they are a nightmare because they are very slippery. So, I come turning around the corner. She swamped the floor. I fall. And I didn’t just fall. This was a full-on face fall!
The orthopedic surgeon had just told me I hadn’t just fallen on my knees. I had bounced and fallen on my knees twice. Then slid, wrenched my back, wrenched my shoulder, hurt the side of my face. All of that healed quite nicely but my knees, not so much. My internist said, “Your knees are never going to be the same.”
The orthopedic surgeon said, “We can make it so that your knees are not in misery every day.” Sounds good to me. So, I had surgery on one knee. Five weeks later, I had surgery on the other knee. Not pleasant. Physical therapy. All of that jazz! A year and a half later, I find out my knees still swell up for no reason, and that periodically, really hurt, okay?
So now, my orthopedic surgeon tells me I’ve developed traumatic arthritis in my knees. And I’m going to have to deal with a knee replacement. I’m probably going to replace the left knee in about four and a half years, and the right knee in about five and a half years. Now, I’m aware of this, not a pleasant idea, but you know, one of those things that I had to live with.
The thing is that sometimes my knees hurt so bad! And the thing is, it’s not a sharp pain. It’s a dull pain that sucks the life out of me! But, I still need to check my homework. I still need to prepare lessons. I still need to feed my children, make sure they take showers, and all of that jazz. Yup. And that one does get to me, the other stuff I can make fun of, and I can move past. But when my knees ache like that, I feel paralyzed. And sometimes, I feel completely useless. Forget the fact that I have no energy. Forget the fact that I can’t do the things that I could do when I was in my thirties or my forties. Forget all of that.
I’m in so much pain, and I’m so exhausted that I’m not even sure how I’m going to meet my share of family responsibilities on that given day. And the thing is, I don’t even know what to do when this happens because I can’t take anti-inflammatories (because I’m allergic). Sometimes I put ice on my knees, and they feel better, sometimes I feel a lot worse. Sometimes I put heat on my knees, and that makes me feel better, but sometimes it makes me feel a lot worse. So, if I don’t try anything, I’m useless. And if I try something, I might become more useless that day. And those are typically the days when I question, “Why did I become an older mom?”. I think things like, “I should have accepted my infertility issues or challenges. I should have understood that I was going to have to face some real challenges in the future.” The reality is I didn’t understand any of those things.
But this is the funny thing: I’m glad I didn’t understand them. I’m glad I didn’t know any of those things because had I known about them, I would have been my ultra responsible self, and I probably wouldn’t have had my kids. And I would have missed out on some great kids.
And they are great! And they don’t care that I’ve slowed down, and they don’t even care that my knees are killing me. And they’re going to be making themselves quesadillas at night, or turkey sandwiches. I’ve never heard my kids say, “I wish my mom was so, and so, or this other person.” Never! I’ve heard other kids say that about their moms. But I never hear my kids say it. And I realize that I do not appreciate the victory at those moments, and that is whether I make mistakes or not (and I often do make mistakes). My kids love me. They love me. They believe in me. They trust me. And they know that I’m always going to do my best for them.
I said to my daughter Emmi recently, “What do you think if I go gray? Do you think I’ll look like your grandma?” And she says, “I don’t care what you look like, Mom. You’re always gonna be my mom, and you’re gonna be a great meemaw. That’s why I’m not gonna let you have my kids very often cause you’re gonna spoil them rotten.” Yes, that’s what I plan to do. I plan to be a completely spoiling meemaw.
So, I didn’t go gray, primarily because my hairdresser says I have a lot of gray in the front and not enough in the back. Go figure! I think it’s totally unfair. I think that should be one of the advantages of being an older mom. I have enough gray hair to go gray! But no! Not yet. I have to wait a few more years.
So in the meantime, I had to color my roots every five weeks. Isn’t that exciting? I think that I selfishly, in my vanity, depress me the most about all this is shoes, okay? I love my shoes. If you’re on my YouTube channel, you could see them. They’re called Oofos. They’re like walking on a cloud, but this sucks! This sucks! I used to have absolutely gorgeous shoes! And I used to love wearing all kinds of shoes. Flats, heels, boots with heels, boots without heels, oh, and my absolute favorite was Uggs. I can’t wear Uggs now. They have no arch support. And like most old ladies, I had plantar fasciitis. I was like, “What the heck?!” I think if I was gonna get gray hair, dry skin, and have to learn about vaginal atrophy, at least, life would have me keep more shoes! But life is not fair. As I often tell my children.
Although Emmi thinks it’s very fair because I’m a shoe-whore. I love shoes, okay? Love, love, love shoes! They’re my favorite item to buy, and I have shoes that are twenty fifteen years old in their nice little boxes, and I only wore them in certain outfits. And right now, Emmi is so looking forward to being a size eight (she’s at seven) because she wants all of my shoes. Now that’s a nice thing because at least I get to visit them. When she’s wearing them, I’ll get to say, “Oh, didn’t those look nice on me? But they look better on her now.” It’s just the way it is, I guess.
I think the most important thing on this crazy journey to old age is that despite all the challenges, the little bumps, the big potholes on the road, is that I appreciate every year that I get cause I have a lot of health challenges. I appreciate every year because it’s another year that I get to spend with my kids, with my crazy husband. It’s another year that I get to enjoy my beautiful life as an older mom.
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If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, please join me next week. For links and resources please visit our website. Till next time… Toodles….